The lack of a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game last night worked to my benefit. We planned a road trip.
After fortifying ourselves with a hearty breakfast [me: scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries and a yogurt parfait topped with honey & granola; he: three eggs done his way, back bacon, sausage, home fries and fruit] we hit the road this morning.
It was a sunny -10C (-17C with wind chill) when we entered Fifty Point Conservation Area in Hamilton, Ontario. We encountered two birders on the hunt for owls known to reside in the park. Lake Ontario was rather rough today. We were directed to the marina where a variety of ducks were sheltering in the calm water. It was here that we located our bird of the day, a male Northern Pintail.
The Northern Pintail was skittish but definitely the most elegant bird I have chanced upon. This was my first sighting of this stunning bird.
The male common goldeneye and mallards were more approachable.
The drive to the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area wound through a portion of the Niagara Escarpment. We headed to the observation deck where we met two experienced, warm and enthusiastic birders. We learned much from these delightful gentlemen.
Beamer is THE SPOT to capture the sight of migrating hawks, falcons, eagles, vultures and other birds. “In spring the cold waters of Lake Ontario and Erie will not produce the thermals and the birds of prey migrating north into Ontario must go around these two bodies of water. The configuration of these two lakes creates a funneling effect, and the result is that large numbers of birds of prey fly directly over the Niagara Peninsula…Starting March 1st and continuing every day until the middle of May, the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch has people stationed at Beamer to identify and record every bird of prey that passes overhead.” Admission to the park is free and the best viewing hours are between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Please see the Hawkwatch for more information.
As we chatted a red-tailed hawk flew over. The gentlemen determined, based on its flight pattern, that it was a migrant hawk. Mere moments later a flock of migrating tundra swans flew by. What a sight to behold!
Every time we venture out we discover a new need. We need a scope or binoculars. If you are in the market, Pelee Wings store is highly recommended.
We had a fabulous day trudging on the snow and ice. My top three moments: (1) photographing the northern pintail – I understand its numbers are declining; (2) encountering and learning from the two gentlemen of the Peninsula Hawkwatch – their enthusiasm is undimmed; (3) the view Beamer afforded.